So you’ve started to meditate. Good for you!
You want to realize the amazing, research-proven benefits. We all want more emotional stability, less stress and anxiety, and decreased reactivity.
I’m thrilled. The world needs more people who want to “become the change” like you!
Getting started can be the hardest part. So give yourself a pat on the back for diving in. It actually takes a lot of courage to sit in the raw reality of the present moment. It’s not easy, but so, so fruitful.
For me, meditation was the #1 most effective thing in reducing depressive mood swings and anxiety. Now, I very rarely get the deep lows that visited me regularly before. It’s like an amazing miracle drug with no side effects.
Now that you’ve started, how do you keep your practice going?
Boost your budding practice by avoiding the mistakes that nearly every beginning meditator makes:
1. Harshness. When we sit, our objective is to notice our thoughts and label them “thinking.” So the question is, when you label them, is your attitude harsh or friendly?
When I started sitting, I wanted to get it right. I was used to working hard to achieve things. So I went after my thoughts like I was duck hunting.
Instead, practice a friendly attitude toward yourself. Remember that the goal is not to eliminate thinking. It is to observe our thoughts like we see clouds floating by in the sky. The goal is to learn and get some objectivity.
2. Too much too soon. There’s an idea in our heads of how long we “should” meditate. We may have been taught that meditation should be 20 minutes, a half hour or longer. This idea can kill our budding meditation practice.
You are starting a new habit. To make a new habit stick, it needs to be small, do-able. You’ll find more success with a small changes that can fit into your life.
Instead of biting off too much, keep your meditation practice short. Stay at 3 to 10 minutes a session. Focus on practicing diligently and consistently.
3. Ignoring your body. There’s a saying I love from the 12-step community: “your issues are in your tissues.” When we begin to meditate, sometimes it can keep us in our heads. We are going after thoughts during our practice. Then we live our days as a floating head. Or, we sit uncomfortably but “push through.”
Instead, make friends with your body. In order to make friends with someone, we have to get to know them, right? Get to know your body during your practice by breathing deeply and paying attention to the felt sense of your body.
Use mindful movement to deepen your friendship. Yoga is the perfect companion to meditation. We open up places that were stuck. It’s meditation in motion. We develop a greater understanding and awareness of our bodies. This gives us more peace and adaptability in the mind.
4. Lack of regular practice time. It’s wonderful to fit your short meditation practice into your day when you need it. But if you are never able to establish a regular time of day to practice, it will be hard to stick to your habit.
Making a habit means making something so routine that we don’t even think about it. This is how we sustain change in the long run.
Instead,pick a regular time to practice. Barring the situation of young children who don’t sleep well, we can all find some kind of rhythm in our days. First thing in the morning is my top recommendation because then it’s done before life interferes. Last thing at night works well too. Whatever your time is, aim for consistency.
5. Going it alone. The last mistake is acting like the Lone Ranger of meditation. Without support, the beginning meditator’s practice often dies out. We are social, tribal creatures who need social support to keep going with something that’s new and different.
Instead, get support for your new meditation habit. Online or off, find a teacher that you trust. Connect with a community of other meditators. Regularly read media that supports your practice. Don’t neglect to get the support you need to keep learning.
There you have it – the 5 common mistakes of beginning meditators. Avoid these potholes, and your practice will nourish a calmer more peaceful you for years to come.
Now it’s your turn.
Are you making any of these mistakes? Start the conversation in the comments below!
Thank you so much for reading! It gives me so much joy to make these life-changing practices accessible. And thank you so much (so, so much!) for all your wonderful feedback. I’m so honored to be here for you.
With warmth & lovingkindness,
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